The government closing down the Centenary Farmers Market has created a stir in the hornet’s nest.
Not only have people complained about it on social media, the Opposition has also taken a stand on it saying that it was not the best thing to do especially in the middle of the COVID19.
But simply put, it boils down to the basics that is most of the vendors, suppliers and farmers at the CFM are economically challenged and sole bread earners of their family, 90% of them being female. And a decision of this magnitude that comes without consultation with the stake holders, mainly the vendors, who are impacted the most, is ridiculous at best and perverse at worst.
The CFM is a structure that was designed to bring vendors together and make it a one-stop shop for agriculture produce. It was a melting pot for farmers and sellers from across the country and not only was it convenient for the vendors themselves to sell their goods and produce at the CFM, it was equally so for the consumers who could do shopping at one go from one place.
Leaving aside the political connotations of this move, the vendors have been assigned the multi-parking spaces to sell their produce. But the question is accessibility to market and feasibility of business. Will it work out? Will business be as fruitful and successful as it was earlier? Going by the stark and naked emptiness of the parking spaces, the vegetable vendors’ business seems anything but thriving.
And what exactly was the rationale? That the COVID would breed and transmit in crowded situations. But could such a decision be made ad hoc? Was a risk analysis done? Was there a single case detected from the CFM? The answer is no. So what calls for this drastic decision? Only the government knows and its decision seems puerile and superficial. More thought, discussion and consultation could have gone into it.
Further, does moving the vendors to the multi-parking spaces guarantee that there won’t be COVID cases transmission out there? Certainly not. There are no such guarantees. But the vendors don’t have a voice. The weak and underprivileged in the society hardly do. They are bull dozed by moves made by the so called powerful who call the shots. Were not the leaders elected to govern and protect the electorate’s rights and wellbeing? It seems they are doing that but only for the upper crust.
There are alternatives the government could have explored. Everywhere the COVID safety protocol is being followed. And the authorities could have been more stringent in implementing the protocol at CFM. Otherwise, they could have formulated a system say where 50% of the vendors could work at one time or they could have come up with a rotation system. But no, they chose the drastic, irrational way out.
By now, many vegetable vendors might have given up on their business due to lack of customers. The location of the parking spaces is also a major hindrance to doing business. While one thought that the government was managing the COVID crisis pretty well, they come up with a stunner that fails to narrow the gap. Between the workings of the heart and the head. Between the poor and the well-to-do. Now where is the peach tree slogan?